Monday, November 13, 2017, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 2:13-25 (NASB).
Our Freedom (vv. 13-17)
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are to submit to the authorities God places over us, unless the authorities require us to deny Christ and to do something which is contrary to God’s Word, and then we must obey God, rather than men. We may, as well, challenge the authorities if we think they are being unjust, and we may even appeal to higher authorities if we believe we are being treated unfairly or abusively, but we should do so respectfully.
These biblical exceptions to absolute blind obedience to authority are modeled for us in the Old and New Testaments by Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel, Jesus, the apostles, and particularly, Paul. As well, we read in Revelation 13 that we are not to bow to “the beast” or to take its mark upon our lives, so submission to authority must be coupled with divine discernment so that we don’t end up denying our Lord and his Word.
God has called us to freedom in Christ Jesus, but our freedom is NOT freedom from submission or obedience, either to God or to those he places in authority over us. It is NOT freedom to do whatever we want now that Christ has set us free, for he set us free FROM the control of sin over our lives, not so that we can sin all we want now that we are under grace. So, truly our FREEDOM is to obey God and to submit to his authority over our lives, and it is freedom to walk in his righteousness and holiness, and it is freedom from addiction to sinful practices. So, instead of living as though we have no restraints on our lives, we should live as bondservants of Christ.
We should not only honor those in authority over us, but we should honor all people, i.e. we should treat all people with respect, regarding them equally as God’s creation, as we are, showing consideration for their needs and concern for their welfare, as Jesus modeled to us.
But, he didn’t bow to what was contrary to God ever! Nor did he ever compromise the Word of God or his faith in order to appease anyone in their sin or in order to submit to authorities. When he was on this earth, he modeled love to us for all people, but it was agape love, which prefers what God prefers, such as what is pure, moral, just, honorable, honest and decent. And, because of this, this necessitated, at times, that he should also demonstrate tough love to some people, such as he did to the Pharisees.
In all that we do, we should walk, in lifestyle, in the fear (reverence, respect, and love) of God, submitting to his will and obeying whatever he teaches us.
Favor with God (vv. 18-20)
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
Although slavery in the USA was very big in times past, it is not what is considered the norm in our nation today. Yet, I know that much human slavery and trafficking still goes on in our world today. And, that is, indeed, a very sad reality. So, if this is where you are, then apply these words spoken in these verses to your situation, only include biblical exceptions.
But, for the sake of applying these words to the lives of the rest of the people who would be reading this today, I would like to look at these truths from the perspective of employers and employees. If we are in the service of another, it is our responsibility to do the best work we know how to do, to be diligent in fulfilling our duties, to be faithful, and to show integrity in all that we do. There should not be a slothful one among us. And, we should be submissive to those in authority over us, but again, with biblical exceptions.
Follow in His Steps (vv. 21-25)
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
The purpose to which we have been called is to suffer injustice for the sake of Christ and his gospel, and to do so willingly, humbly, and patiently, in order to demonstrate to others the love of Christ. Again, this is not to say that we can’t respectfully question (challenge) abusive treatment or even make an appeal for justice to be served, but it is to say that we should entrust our lives into God’s capable hands and be willing to accept the outcome of what is decided, again, unless it requires that we disobey God and his Word. For, God’s Word always trumps that of man.
This means that we don’t trade “tit for tat,” i.e. we don’t get even; we don’t retaliate in like manner. We don’t take jabs at people, intended to cut them to the heart, just because they hurt us, in other words. If we must suffer injustice for Jesus’ name and for his gospel, then so be it. What other people say about us, or do to us, is mostly out of our realm of control and influence anyway. If people choose to think badly about us, based upon what someone else says, without even inquiring as to whether or not it is truth, what can we do about it? Yes, to a point, we can defend ourselves. Jesus did. The apostles did. I know Paul did. But, ultimately we must let go and let God have the final say in it all, and trust him with our reputations.
As followers of Christ, we are to follow in his steps. We are to follow his example to us in how to respond to unjust treatment. Sometimes he spoke the truth in love to others, and at times he remained silent, or he just walked away from it all. But, bottom line was that he willingly gave up his life for us on a cross, even though he did no wrong. He chose to suffer the pain of unjust treatment, mocking, spitting, beatings, false accusations and physical death for you and for me. Why did he do this? It was so that we could die to our sins, and so we could live to righteousness. And, that is the true bottom line.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.